Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is characterized by symptoms of fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate, reduced productivity, nausea, irritation of the eyes, nose of throat, coughing, dry skin, allergies, asthma attacks, cold or influenza symptoms, and even changes in personality (Joshi 2008). High rates of office workers are inflicted with SBS annually (Zamani, et al. 2013) and that majority of inflicted people report mild relief shortly after leaving the building (Joshi 2008) Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief. Countless people spend 40 hours or more in their workplace and are slowly poisoned in return; we have a social responsibility to alleviate this problem for the health and financial stability of our nation as well as the world.
This researcher recommends further research into sick building syndrome to effectively treat the causes of the problem, rather than only the symptoms. As a society we should decrease the average amount of time people spend chained to their desks attempting to provide for their families. We need to work with the EPA and form a new agency to protect the conditions of workers in our economic system. If this fails, given the capitalistic system and elitist biases in congress we should unionize and protect our own right to work in safe, clean, and healthy environments. Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief.
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) was addressed by a World Health Organization Committee in 1984. This committee stated that an average of 30 percent new or recently remodeled buildings may experience complaints regarding their Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) across the globe. Until the middle of the 1900’s, indoor ventilation standards required roughly 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) for every individual in the building. Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief. However, the 1973 oil embargo fostered energy conservation efforts that radically reduced the minimum ventilation requirements to a mere 5 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person. Modern standards are a bit higher, with rates between 15 cfm and 60 cfm depending on the building and indoor conditions (United States Environmental Protection Agency 1991).
Due to the nature of Sick Building Syndrome, the vulnerable population is comprised primarily of office workers and people who spend excessive amounts of time in their indoor work environments (Abdel-Hamid et al. 2013). An article from the American Journal of Applied Sciences “Indoor Air Quality and Prevalence of Sick Building Syndrome Among Office Workers in Two Different Offices in Selangor (2013)” found in a research study that in the older of the two buildings, 68.2% of office workers were negatively affected by SBS, and in a newer building 25.9% were affected (Zamani, et al. 2013). Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief.
The environmental protection agency (EPA) regulates indoor air quality in workplaces (United States Environmental Protection Agency n.d.). Since IAQ is regarded by experts as the primary cause of Sick Building Syndrome, the EPA’s role is vital to reducing the number of cases. The EPA also has resources and research published on Sick Building Syndrome and a procedure for determine if the indoor air quality is acceptable. This procedure includes investigating the most common causes of SBS: the people in the building; potential sources of contamination; the building’s HVAC system; and potential pathways of pollution into the building. Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief. Other steps include a walk through the impacted area and air sampling (United States Environmental Protection Agency 1991).
The current policies surrounding Sick Building Syndrome define the possible causes as inadequate ventilation, building crowding, pollution and other air containments, and indoor activities (Joshi 2008). Culprits can include smoking as well as mold growth or a malfunctioning HVAC system. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends removing the sources of these possible containments. Increasing ventilation rates and cleaning the air with better filters are also recommendations given by the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency 1991). Joshi’s article, “The Sick Building Syndrome (2008)” also highlights working conditions and lighting as causes of SBS. Joshi suggests research into the problem as well as educating the workforce. An important aspect of Joshi’s recommendation, however, is legislation. Joshi cites banning indoor smoking from workplaces as an example of legislation tackling SBS. Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief.
This researcher finds that the guidelines published by the EPA lack the ability to solve the problem and merely treat the symptoms Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief. We need more legislation regarding indoor work conditions. Sick building Syndrome is a problem for everyone as it decreases productivity and increases absenteeism in the work place (Joshi 2008). Working with the EPA and a new agency we need to conduct more research on the prevention of SBS, rather than developing more plans for how to handle a workspace that is already toxic.
In conclusion, the current perspective of handling attempts to treat the symptoms of Sick Business Syndrome after the original damage was already been done. We should form a new agency at the federal level to protect the working conditions of workers and this agency should both regulate working conditions as well as fund research into the underlying causes of SBS. While this agency is in its infancy the EPA should work to better educate the public on the current research regarding SBS and how to alleviate the symptoms Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief.
Abdel-Hamid, M. A., Hakim, S. A., Elokda, E. E., & Mostafa, N. S. (2013). Prevalence and risk
factors of sick building syndrome among office workers. Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association, 88(2), 109-114. doi:10.1097/01.epx.0000431629.28378.c0
Joshi, S. M. (2008). The sick building syndrome. Indian Journal of Occupational and
Environmental Medicine, 12(2), 61–64. http://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5278.43262
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (1991, February). Indoor Air Facts No. 4
(revised) Sick Building Syndrome . Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-08/documents/sick_building_factsheet.pdf
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2017, February) An Office Building Occupants
Guide to Indoor Air Quality. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/office-building-occupants-guide-indoor-air-quality
Zamani, M., Jalaludin, J., & Shaharom, N. (2013). Indoor Air Quality And Prevalence Of Sick
Building Syndrome Among Office Workers In Two Different Offices In Selangor. American Journal of Applied Sciences, 10(10), 1140-1147. doi:10.3844/ajassp.2013.1140.1147 Sick Building Syndrome Essay – Sample Policy Brief